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Dissertation
Taking Indigenous culture into account: a critical analysis of an early childhood education program for disadvantaged families
(2016)
  • Jacynta Krakouer, Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)
Abstract
Early childhood education and care (ECEC) has gained significant policy attention in Australia as a key to closing the Indigenous education gap prior to the commencement of formal schooling. Yet, Indigenous Australians still attend formal ECEC at lower rates than their non-Indigenous peers. The Home Instruction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY) is a combined home and centre based ECEC program that works with disadvantaged children and families (including Indigenous Australians) to prepare children for their first year of school. The HIPPY Australia program teaches parents how to be their child’s first educator through the provision of structured educational activity packs that parents undertake with their child over a two year period. Using a mixed methods approach combining content and critical discourse analysis, this research critically analysed the compatibility of HIPPY with Indigenous Australians. Quantitatively, this thesis examines the extent to which the forty-five HIPPY Australia activity packs aligned with traditional Indigenous learning approaches. Qualitatively, cultural compatibility was analysed by examining the assumptions about Indigenous parents and families implicitly inherent in the HIPPY Australia activity packs. It was found that the four and five year old HIPPY Australia activity packs had minimal alignment with Indigenous Australian learning approaches and favoured the use of particular Indigenous learning approaches over others. The critical discourse analysis of the HIPPY program highlighted the manner in which the program privileges Western knowledges over Indigenous knowledges. In this way, the HIPPY program is used as a social policy intervention tool to correct the undesirable behaviours of Indigenous parents and families who do not adhere to Western educational and parenting norms. Deficit-based assumptions regarding the knowledge and skills that disadvantaged families brought to the HIPPY program were also found to be prevalent which limited parent autonomy in educating their children. The findings have implications for engaging Indigenous parents, children and communities in the HIPPY program. In order to improve the cultural compatibility of HIPPY with Indigenous Australians, the HIPPY program should be tailored to local Indigenous contexts through a participatory, community-based approach. This would enable local Indigenous communities to exercise self-determination through the adaptation of the HIPPY program to suit their needs. Future research should focus on obtaining Indigenous parents’ and communities’ views regarding the cultural compatibility of the HIPPY program with Indigenous Australians.
Keywords
  • Indigenous education,
  • Indigenous culture,
  • Young children,
  • Parents,
  • Early childhood education,
  • Social policy,
  • Home Instruction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY),
  • Disadvantaged
Publication Date
2016
Degree
MSP Melb
Department
University of Melbourne. School of Social and Political Sciences
Citation Information
Jacynta Krakouer. "Taking Indigenous culture into account: a critical analysis of an early childhood education program for disadvantaged families" (2016)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/jacynta-krakouer/9/